Learning How to Say No


What To Do When You Have a Hard Time Saying, “No”

There was a time in my life where I thrived on being busy. I had one kid back then and she was little. We did it all. Church service? Sign me up. Play group 2-3x a week you bet. Moms night out and book club? Of course, and I was in charge. Go back to school and continue my degree?  Yeah I did that too. I had a really hard time saying no, and I really didn’t want to.

But about three years ago something shifted. I felt anxious all the time. I couldn’t focus on a task at hand. I would run, run, run, and then crash for several days at time. Menial tasks consumed me, and commitments  I had previously enjoyed brought no fulfillment in my life. I no longer felt like “busy” was a badge of honor, instead it was just exhausting.
I knew something had to change. And even though it didn’t happen over night, and I still have weeks where I feel like I am drowning, I have worked really hard to  let go of the overwhelm, honor who I am and what my strengths are, and most importantly learn how to gracefully say “No”.

Step One: Capitalize on Your Strengths as a way to say “No”

We all have talents and strengths. And yes it is important to try new things, and expand ourselves BUT not at the cost of our mental health. So if there’s a need in your sphere of influence, capitalize on your strengths and let others capitalize on theirs. This will allow you to say Yes to the things you can do, and say no to the things you really can’t.

Step Two: Own what’s on your plate, And don’t take something else on unless you can take something off.

This is a hard one, especially if you are used to saying “yes” to everything. It’s hard to say no, especially if it’s something you are passionate about, or you see a need to fill.
However, it will not do you or your family any good to say “Yes” if it means you can’t show up for them or for yourself.
This one can be seasonal, or transient. There may be a season where you can take something off your plate, in order to add things back on. And then you may need to revise again as a new season starts. Basically, if a new opportunity presents itself I ask myself, if there’s something I can take off my plate in order to make room for this new thing?  And if the answer is no, then I may need to pass and revisit at a later time.
Which leads me to learning how to say “No” {gracefully}.

Step Three: Learn how to Gracefully say “No”

This was the hardest for me to learn. Because I hate letting people down, and I especially hate appearing as if I don’t care, or that I am vulnerable, or too busy, etc. etc. Because let’s face it, a lot of really good opportunities to serve, or learn, or grow, or lead come our way all the time. But they aren’t always good for us right then and that’s ok. And so the solution is this. Just say No. 
  • No, Thank you.
  • I am unavailable at that time.
  • Thank you so much for thinking of me and reaching out, but I will not be able to do that.
  • I am proud of you for doing that, but at this time I am not interested.
  • At this time in my life I am unable to do that.
  • There are many ways to say no, that validate the other person but make your position clear.

Step Four: Honor your Availability and Make it Count

If someone approaches you and asks for help you may not be able to commit to the entire time slot, or the entire day, or week or entire year etc. But you can say “Thank you so much for asking me, I am not available the entire day but I am available from 9-12.” Or, I am not available every Tuesday evening, but I would be happy to help on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays”. This way you are clear from the very beginning and there’s no room for misinterpretation.
Owning and taking control of your time is a form of self care, and has been one of the most important actions I have taken in being able to show up for my family, for my community, and for myself. And although I am still learning and growing, I have felt an increase in peace and a decrease in anxiety in my life.
For another post on mom burnout check this out.
And I love this podcast episode as well.
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Emily Schofield
Emily is new to the Coastal Bend area but enjoys everything it has to offer! Emily and her husband Landon both grew up in Idaho, and came to Kingsville for her husband’s job as a range and wildlife biologist. Emily graduated with her BSN from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Emily has two amazing children, Ashton (6) and Brooks (16 months). Emily has been a SAHM since Brooks was born and is returning to the nursing field this Fall. When she isn’t adventuring with her family, she loves faking insomnia with a good book, trying (and sometimes failing) new recipes, listening to podcasts and taking a bubble bath.